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Avoid These 10 Classic IT Hiring Mistakes

As within any industry, there are common mistakes that IT hiring managers are in danger of making when trying to find the right candidate to fill a specific role.  Whether it’s due to the pressure of an immediate need, or because of a lack of time to dedicate to the process, following these 10 steps will help you to avoid the classic hiring pitfalls and secure the best candidate for the position.

1. Don't just fall for a pretty face.  Not literally - but don't just fall in love with a resume that has all the right acronyms, companies, degrees, etc. Many times people don't live up to what's on their resumes so make sure you do your due diligence: interview them thoroughly and check references. And realize the person without the perfect resume may still be the perfect person for the job.

2. Use your network.  You know all that money you spend for professional groups or that effort you put into making connections on LinkedIn?  Don't forget to use it when it comes to hiring!  Most associations allow you to post jobs on their website or in their newsletter, and LinkedIn can be a goldmine for finding passive candidates. Tell everyone you know you're looking to hire, just like you might do when you're looking for a job - you never know who might know the right person.

3.  Learn how to write.  If you are going to be posting this job description and giving it out to candidates, it better be a good one. Depending on your company, you may have templates or get some assistance from HR, but make sure your description says what you are really looking for and isn't just the one you used 10 years ago for the same position. And make sure it's appealing to candidates, describing selling points like growth path, cool projects or perks.

4. Ensure you have buy in.  Obviously, you don't want to overcomplicate the process, but make sure anyone that will be impacted by the role has some say in the process, from writing the job description to being part of the interviews and decision to hire. If you have people who are not on board or feel they were slighted by not being asked their opinion, they may end up sabotaging your hard-won hire!

5.  Don't jump to conclusions too early in an interview - either positive or negative.

Human nature often makes us either love or hate someone in the first minutes of talking to them. But the interview situation is such a stressful one that a good candidate can start out with a fair degree of nervousness and get better as time goes on. Contrarily, someone can look the part and initially say all the right things but only be surface-deep and lack the real qualifications for the role. Promise yourself in any interview that you will be neutral until you have asked several questions and can make an unbiased determination.

6. Let go of the fairy tale.  We all want to wait for Prince or Princess Charming but the reality of the hiring market in some areas is that you may have to make some trade-offs because the person you are looking for doesn't exist or is making too much money for your company or has 3 other job offers.  If you wait too long for the perfect person, you may miss out on many candidates who could be perfect with a little training and TLC.  Be honest about what your absolute requirements are, what you could possible forgo, and what you think you could train in. You certainly don't want to settle, but you may need to be a bit more creative to get someone into the seat.

7. Realize that hiring is part of your job.  Sometimes the most difficult thing for a busy manager to do is to make time to hire, especially if it's a role that is currently being done by them or someone on the team. It's the classic Catch 22 - they are too busy to look at resumes, interview, etc. but if they could actually get someone on board, they would be less busy and have more time to focus on other projects. And if you wait too long to get someone in, you run the risk of burning your staff or yourself out with the extra work, leading to even more hiring.

8. Know the right person could be right under your nose.  The best managers are always looking for ways to enhance their staff's careers. So while there are certainly times you need to go outside for a particular talent, make sure you have evaluated your current staff to see if someone could move into the open position. It may require a little more time and investment in training, but you will save time in interviewing and a new person learning the ins and outs of the environment, plus avoid the risk that they won't like the company. And you will be a hero to your team for always looking inside before looking outside to promote and hire.

9. No matter what your job, you need to be part salesperson. The biggest mistake many managers make is not actively courting and selling candidates they are interested in.  There's the old belief that candidates should be doing all the selling and the company can sit back and wait and see whom they want to hire.  Unfortunately, qualified candidates are going to have multiple options, including a possible counteroffer from their current company, and can afford to be picky.  So it behooves you to engage candidates immediately in the process, describing the benefits of the work environment and the role so that your company stands out.  When you know you really like them, you should turn on the charm even more - make them feel wanted!  You don't have to wine and dine every candidate, but even a timely phone call or email expressing how much you enjoyed meeting them can keep them interested in you.

10. Keep your own house in order.  While this one isn't about hiring directly, not focusing on their current team is a mistake managers make that can lead to a lot of hiring.  Make sure you are investing in your staff, giving them challenging projects, looking for other opportunities for them – the better you are at this, the less often you will have to deal with the challenges of hiring new people.

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